NFL coaching legend Vince Lombardi had several catchy sayings. One of the most memorable was, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”
Sounds cool. Looks good on a locker room wall.
It’s meaningless, though, unless applied. And Lake-Lehman has applied it this season.
The Black Knights came into the season as the coaches’ and media’s darlings in Class 2A of District 2. They were highly favored to capture the D2-2A crown, something the program hasn’t done since 1997. They had all the pieces in place. Then Old Forge scattered them on opening night.
Lehman was driving for the potential winning touchdown, a storybook ending to what was to be a storybook season. Interception, game over, Old Forge wins 13-7.
“A win in that game puts us on the map,” Lehman coach Jerry Gilsky said. “You get more of an identity.”
Old Forge is a small school that cranks out quality teams annually. Lehman is a tad bigger in enrollment but way smaller in recognition.
Yet, the Black Knights didn’t let the loss sink them for too long. They’ve wiped out their last three opponents. Granted none were of the stature of Old Forge. Montrose hasn’t scored yet. Wyoming Area is going through a massive rebuild. And Holy Redeemer hasn’t been able to get on solid footing since the program’s first game in 2007.
But the fact that Lehman knocked all three down and didn’t let them up speaks volumes.
“Football is football,” Gilsky said. “(Old Forge) was a game that really measured us as a team. In a way, we learned from the first game of the year. The kids in the last three games came out of the gates strong. They understand what it take to be a winner.”
And what it takes to get back up.
Dallas’ struggles this season are reminiscent of those of the 2008 Mountaineers, who finished 2-8.
Both teams couldn’t score to start the season. Dallas has seven points thus far; the 2008 squad had 14 through four games. Neither team could run the ball. This year’s Mounts are averaging 1.8 yards per carry. The 2008 version averaged 3.1 through four games.
However, there are some differences, particularly on defense. The 2008 Dallas team had a minus-11 turnover ratio at this point, while this year’s team is minus-1. The 2008 squad had trouble stopping the run, allowing 5.3 yards per carry in its first four games. Dallas is solid versus the run so far, allowing 3.4 per carry.
The 2008 team lost its first six game before defeating Crestwood 9-0, which was also the 200th coaching victory for Ted Jackson.
Wyoming Area’s 20-12 victory over Hanover Area on Friday meant the Warriors won’t have a chance to set the record for the worst start in school history. That distinction still belongs to the 1974 team that lost five in a row before defeating Dallas 20-18. The 1974 team finished 2-6-2, with the other win coming via forfeit against Hanover Area.
The worst team in the school’s 48 seasons was the 1976 team that finished 1-10. Oddly, those Warriors won their opener 19-0 over Bishop Hoban before losing 10 in a row.
When Lake-Lehman intercepts a pass this season, it has meant one thing — six points. The Black Knights have returned all three of their interceptions for touchdowns.
Kody Pachamovitch and Josh Winters each had a pick-6 against Holy Redeemer on Friday. Joey Vigil had one earlier this season.
Two former Wyoming Area teammates will get reacquainted Saturday when Sacred Heart plays at Bucknell at 6 p.m.
Nick Bartoli is the starting right guard for Sacred Heart. He is in his sophomore season. On the other sideline will be a guy he helped become Wyoming Area’s all-time leading rusher, Nick O’Brien. O’Brien is a freshman defensive back for Bucknell. He has played in one game with one tackle.
A couple of each from Week 4:
• Dallas to battle Coughlin tough despite the records. Coughlin stayed unbeaten with a 7-0 victory over the winless Mountaineers. The biggest margin of victory in the last five meetings was Dallas’ 28-14 win in 2011. Even that game was a closer contest than the final score indicated.
• Lake-Lehman to avoid passing versus Holy Redeemer. The best way to attack Redeemer’s defense is the direct approach — running the ball. The Royals haven’t been able to stop the run throughout their seven-year existence. Lehman proved it once again in its 61-22 victory by having three runners top 100 yards.
• Berwick to run the ball well against Wyoming Valley West. It took a half and it was more ground-and-pound, but the Dawgs’ ability to chew up yardage in the final two quarters was instrumental in the 42-28 victory over the Spartans. This came a week after Valley West curtailed Scranton star running back Jake McCarthy for the most part.
• Williamsport’s offense to remain dormant. There was a good chance the Millionaires’ offense would find the end zone last Friday against Hazleton Area, a team that had surrendered 33 points through three games. Instead, Williamsport’s only points came via a kickoff return. The offense hasn’t scored since the season-opening 24-21 victory against Central Mountain.
HOW’S THIS MERCY RULE
The PIAA requires a running clock in high school football if a team leads by 35 points in the second half. A California youth league took its mercy rule a step further.
According to a story on foxsports.com, the Northern California Federation Youth Football League has instituted a $200 fine and a one-week suspension for a coach if his team wins by 35 points or more. Teams must also sit their starters once up by 28. The thinking is players on losing teams were getting discouraged and losing interest in football.
In the PIAA adopted the same rule this season, here’s how much the following WVC coaches would owe, provided they still pay a fine despite being suspended: Berwick’s George Curry, $600; Lake-Lehman’s Jerry Gilsky, $600; Meyers’ Corry Hanson, $400; Crestwood’s Greg Myers, $200; Tunkhannock’s Rod Azar, $200; Wyoming Valley West’s Pat Keating, $200.